EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan State University is authorizing what it says will be an independent investigation of the school’s handling of sexual assault complaints against now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar .
The board of trustees unanimously approved the probe Friday. It intends to hire Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery to investigate and release a public report.
The university has come under criticism for hiring a law firm to conduct an “independent” investigation while the same law firm also defended the school in civil lawsuits. No report has been made public.
The Michigan attorney general office’s has been investigating the university and has charged three officials, including a former president.
Attorney General Dana Nessel was critical of the board’s decision.
“Michigan State University lacks the credibility necessary to conduct a legitimate investigation. Over the past few years, it has launched several investigations including an ‘independent investigation’ conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald in 2016. Unsurprisingly, it has cleared its employees of culpability each time. There is only one way for MSU to regain the public’s trust and that is to waive its privilege and disclose all information in its possession about Larry Nassar to the Department of Attorney General. In other words, the University should leave the job of investigating to the professionals.”Attorney General Dana Nessel
Trustees say they worked with Nassar victims in recent months to launch the new investigation “to restore trust in this university.”
The Board of Trustees also released details on the creation of a new fund to support counseling and mental health services for Larry Nassar survivors. Trustees selectedNew Directions Behavioral Health to administer the Counseling and Mental Health Services Fund.
“We listened to the concerns expressed about the management of the initial Healing Assistance Fund and selected New Directions Behavioral Health with those concerns in mind,” said Dianne Byrum, chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
The new fund will be accessible starting September 1. More details will be provided in August.
The board also approved an update to an existing policy banning consensual amorous and sexual relationships between faculty and academic staff and undergraduate students.
“The purpose of this policy is to ensure that MSU’s learning environment reflects our moral and ethical responsibility to manage the power differential that exists when there are relationships between instructors and students,” said Provost June Youatt.